The softspoken, electronic-rock gods, Justice, stopped by the Sirius XM studios this past Friday to spin an exclusive set for a studio packed with die-hard fans. In a brief pre-set interview, Gaspard Augé remained quiet while Xavier de Rosnay explained the origins of Justice, including their “accidental” jump into music production, their first remix of Simian Mobile Disco, and the classic rock inspiration behind Audio, Video, Disco. In anticipation for the start of their North American tour, the French duo spun an eclectic set of originals and techno-heavy tracks from some of the premiere French acts in the scene today. Leading off with ZZT’s “Partys Over Los Angeles” the duo featured cuts from Gesaffelstein, Destructo, Surkin, SebastiAn, Jacques Lu Cont and more, before finally closing out with Michael Sembello’s 80’s classic, “Maniac,” which took us by surprise — but, as one fan put it, “That’s what legends fucking do.”
The DJ set is also available on SiriusXM On Demand for subscribers listening via the SiriusXM Internet Radio App for smartphones and other mobile devices or online at siriusxm.com. Visit www.siriusxm.com/ondemand for more info on SiriusXM On Demand.
The line stretched around the block Sunday evening for Justice’s sold out show at Hammerstein Ballroom, masses of concertgoers eagerly awaiting the epic rock opera performed by one of the premiere acts in electronic music today. I say electronic music instead of dance music because there needs to be a strong distinction between the two. The type of show that Gaspard and Xavier put on is more rock concert than rave, from the towering walls of Marshall stacks to the stark and powerful production, there is very little “dance-able” during a proper Justice set. No deep grooves or progressive builds, just a savage, prog-rock influenced assault on the senses.
Upon walking into the venue there was something noticeably different than at most other shows – there was not a speck of neon in sight, no over-the-top outfits, no LED gloves and furry animal hats. It was a refreshing change from the mainstream-fueled “EDM” scene where garish costumes and outlandish production take precedence over the music. The rave culture, it seems, has completely overlooked Justice – and I couldn’t be happier.
The last time I saw Justice was during the first weekend of Coachella, where they suffered near set-cancelling technical difficulties that resulted in a disappointing 25-minute set time. This time around I was eager to experience their set, not as a journalist, but simply as a fan – planting myself dead center amongst the moshing crowd.
The two stood sullen, clad in bright red Justice jackets, dwarfed by the two massive walls of Marshall stacks that stood ominously on either side. A flash of strobes illuminated the concert hall and ignited the sold-out crowd amidst the flurry of gritty chord progressions that make up “Genesis” — the go-to opener for nearly every Justice set. The crowd moshed and thrashed as Xavier and Gaspard worked their way through their catalog of tracks featuring Audio, Video, Disco‘s stand-out tracks, “Helix” and “Civilization” as well as their career-defining classic, “D.A.N.C.E,” which incited a roar of cheers as the sold out crowd sung along to its infectious and iconic vocals.
All of the usual suspects were represented here, “Waters of Nazareth” blared from the sound system as white spotlights strobed and spun in wild patterns behind the decks. “Horsepower,” “New Lands,” and “Stress” thunderously pounded and shook the walls of the packed concert hall. At just over 90 minutes, Justice’s entire catalog may not be as deep as some of their contemporaries but every production is powerful and provocative — there is not a single forgettable track in a Justice set.
About halfway through the show a loud thump could be heard about 10 feet in front of me, followed by panicked screaming. It seemed that an overzealous fan had fallen from the 3rd floor balcony onto the general admission floor below. For a minute he lay there, seemingly lifeless, before a few concerned fans tried to help him to his feet. Ushers and paramedics rushed to the man’s attention, securing his neck and placing him on a gurney. As they carted him away he raised his hands in the air and gave the universal “rock” hand signal – as if to give us all the go ahead to continue enjoying the show.
As the show continued, the often bleak duo’s energy noticeably changed – culminating with the set’s encore. After returning to the stage, Justice performed “On’N’On” “Phantom Pt. 2” and “Parade” before Xavier graciously thanked the mass of adoring fans and jumped into their arms, crowd surfing in what was truly an out of character — but incredibly awesome — way to close out the opening show of their North American tour.
There is a reason why Justice are lauded as electronic rock pioneers – they continue to push boundaries and take risks with their production style, challenging themselves as artists at every turn. They do not fit into some pre-defined mold, instead Xavier and Gaspard remain dedicated to their craft of creating truly inspired music. It’s no wonder that up-and-coming pioneers like Zedd cite them as the reason they got into producing electronic music in the first place.
Photo Credit: Kenny Sun